So the point of this blog is to talk about something I never got to read. When I was 17 and a senior in High School, I was faced with this GINORMOUS life decision. It was called COLLEGE. One of the scariest words I've ever come encounter with. When I was picking a school, I knew I was picking a life. But, I never had anyone that I could relate to that I could get advice from. I just winged it. I kind of threw a dart at the board and ended up in Chicago. But that experience has taught me everything I live for today. Ever since the beginning of highschool, I had tons of older friends. It's just who I was. As I grew up, they moved out of my local town and off to colleges around the country. I spent so much time watching how it changed them (for the better or sometimes for the worst) and what they did on the daily basis to see any bits of college that I could. Senior year rolled around and I found myself applying to I think it was 9 or 10 schools, all around the country. From big cities to campuses in the middle of nowhere, I had it on my map. So many colleges want to sell themsleves to you (just like a brand does). In that case, every college is its' own brand. You know that the state schools are the party schools and the big greek life system and you know the city school immerses you into the "real world". Or, maybe you had no clue that was the case. That's why I'm going to write all of this. It's January and it's coming up to be that time where you're going to go home one day and have to make the biggest decision of your life. I hope that all of this kind of helps shape your decision if you're that stressed senior in highschool. And if you're a younger kid, just know that one day you're going to come home and hear the question (probably hundreds of times) "So, where do you want to go to school?".
I guess before we break down the entire thought of college, we have to ask the question: "Is It Worth It?"
Man, I used to sit in bed and ask myself that every single night. I grew up in a family where I guess it was embedded in the plan. There kind of was no "other option" for me because I grew up loving school and just being one of those kids who move on to going to college. In my eyes, college is the most important thing that can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter what college. It could be a ginormous university, or it could be a small state school, or a school in a city that no one has ever heard about. Go. Do it. Take the leap. And go to college.
The only way I'm going to sit back and say "oh, word, smart move" to not go to college is if you're a signed rapper with a label deal that is going to let you tour the country, someone who is developing the next app as big as uber, or someone who is making more than $10,000 a month (doing whatever it is you're doing). And for that matter, if it's computer stuff or maybe you're trapping, guess what, that stuff only gets bigger and better when you go to college!
So for me, going to college has been, and forever will be, the best thing to happen to me. I remember one day my mom told me that she would give me the 40k it would cost for a year of college and i could use that towards whatever life venture I wanted. I contemplated it for a few nights, I guess I was just so amazed my mom had that much faith in me, but I turned it down.
So here we are, winter of 2016, I'm 17 about to turn 18, senior in highschool, 5 AP classes, was class president (for a year then they kicked me out because they thought I was too outspoken but that's for another storytime), played sports, had a company, 3.9 GPA, DECA championship, I had a lot on my plate.
Let me say something really quick and if this is the only thing that sticks with you from this entire story, then i'll be fine with that.
ONCE YOU LEAVE HIGHSCHOOL, NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT WHO YOU WERE IN HIGHSCHOOL.
Excuse my french.
But the thing was, it didn't matter how good of a student I was, it didn't matter how many clubs I belonged to or how many friends I had, I spent an entire year looking for the perfect school for me and I never found it. I wanted a campus, but I wanted a city. I didn't want corn fields and I didn't care much for Big Ten sports teams. I wanted to be somewhere where I could continue the brand and keep doing internet stuff. I didn't want to be away from fashion or clothes and I wanted to be at a school with 25,000+ students. I wanted a city but not somewhere like the Bronx. I kind of wanted to be able to take the train every day. But I wanted that "college" vibe and that "so college" experience. I didn't really think it existed.
I didn't know what I wanted in my life. And I bet you don't know, either. And the sad thing is, you don't know until you try it. So for the system to work in a way that it's like Ok, you apply, you get in, you pack up your life, and you move somewhere crazy with a weird roommate and no friends from home, it's a little scary.
I ended up getting into 7 of my 9 schools I applied to, got rejected from NYU Business School and Harvard told me better luck next time. So I had 7 options on the table. Each in a different state. Each in a different enviornment. Each with a different campus and a different vibe. For some reason I woke up one morning and said "you know what, if I go to a campus in the middle of nowhere I'll hate my life and if I go to New York I'll get consumed by the culture. Boston is too boring. LA is too cliché. Let's go see why Chance says Chicago is so cool." And that day I accepted my admittance at DePaul University in Lincoln Park in Chicago.
So let me give you my input on colleges.
There's TWO TYPES of colleges, and that's something you need to understand.
There's a CITY SCHOOL.
And there is a
A city school is, well, you guessed it, a school in or very close to a big city.
Once you get to be a college student you find out that there becomes two types of people, city people and campus people.
And guess what, when you do wake up one day and go to college, it's the craziest thing ever. You find out one day who your roomate is going to be, chances are you look them up on Instagram or Facebook, you pack up everything you own, and you head off to college. No more small town action. For me, it was no longer a suburban daydream. I got on a plane, said bye to my life, and moved into an entire new life. You meet hundreds of new people. Man, I've probably met 3,000 people in the past few months. You find out who you are. You realize that in highschool, maybe you weren't like everyone else. You realize that you want a switch of plans. WAIT THE BEST PART IS THE FACT THAT YOU CAN BE WHOEVER YOU WANT! MAN WHEN I REALIZED THAT PART, I REALIZED HOW FUN IT WAS. There's no reputation behind your name. No one cares where you're from! No one cares what kind of car you drive! No one knows what type of house you live in, what neighborhood you're from, what your parents do, who your parents are, what private school you might have gone to! It Doesn't Matter! Everyone Is Equal! Everyone is new! Everyone is, well, themselves. It's like a clean slate on life. It's like something out of a movie. And that's why I enforce going to college. It's stuff like that, in which you don't get to do every day. It's an experience that I hope every single kid gets to experience. I moved to college and instantly met people 10x cooler than anyone in my highschool. No one knew who I was. No one cared what type of person I was in highschool. The past is literally buried away. The only way you find out something old about a college friend is scrolling through their old photos, and guess what, there's not enough time to do that for every friend just so you can make a bias of who they were. It doesn't matter who someone was. It matters who someone is.
But you don't get that in highschool. In highschool you walk into school every day knowing everyone, everyone knows who you hangout with, who you associate yourself with.
In my highschool there were 1,100 kids. Around 300 per grade. And guess what, not a single one of them were like me. Not one. No one in my suburban town of Danvers, Massachusetts knew what brands were. These people barely used Instagram.
I remember over February break of my senior year. I skipped the 2 days before break and went to New York for Fashion Week. I went to the VFiles show then I got to shoot the Yeezy Season 3 show (I'll talk about that another time) then the next day I got on a plane and went to London for the first time. I had turned 18 the week before that and I was with just a friend of mine and our 16 year old prodigy friend. We just got on a plane went to London by ourselves with no plans no agenda and we just figured it out. We stayed with this random woman who we only saw like twice but we stayed at her place for a week and we just lived. I went back to highschool a week later and people were like "dude what do you do with your life" and for me, it was easier to just say "I just live" rather than to explain how I met a few friends on the internet who invited me to go to London to study brands and clothes. No one was like me. No one knew what I was doing. I was friends with everyone, I had so many class friends and people who I loved from school, but no one was on the wave I was on. You know what I mean? Kids were making fun of me for OHKAY and saying I would never succeed. Hahaha there were a group of kids in my highschool that used to make fun of me all the time for starting a "clothing brand", right? They loved to talk. I glo'd up and did my thing and never let that shit get to me. Ever. Turns out a year later they tried to "launch their own clothing brand". Month or two after their "big launch" i checked in to see how they were doing, you know, out of being petty. Their site isn't active anymore. All of which doesn't surprise me. But that just comes to show that no matter what you do in highschool, people are going to hate it.
Our friends hate it when we become successful. And the haters HATE to see you win. The girls that talked shit about you or the boys that dissed you for being you, they all end up irrelevent at some state school. The kids that made fun of you for dressing weird, they got Vineyard Vines for Christmas. Or, maybe it's one of those cases where you grew up being yourself and expressing who you are by your clothes or maybe you painted your nails funky or maybe you cut your hair and dyed it frequently. Maybe some kids laughed at you. You ate it right up. You smiled and took the hate with pride. Maybe some of those kids go onto college and cut their hair, paint their nails, get a friend group that they love full of "highschool weirdos". Those are the type of kids who are going to smile and give you a hug when they see you for Christmas break. I don't even know where I'm going with this. I just know that a lot of people hated me in highschool because I was doing my thing. A lot of people still hate that I'm happy and successful. The thing is, the same kids that used to talk shit about me, about OHKAY, about everything I stand for, those are the kids who wouldn't see the purpose in writing to younger kids. The ones who think this shit is "lame". The ones who probably still listen to Brocolli by Yachty when they wake up and shotgun beers in their gross concrete dorm room. But it's fine. Once you leave highschool, it's like an entire new world. The chains break and you're free. You don't have to talk to a single person you don't like ever again. One day you graduate, smile, get a photo with your diploma, and realize you'll never walk the same halls as the kid that called you a fag for wearing pink pants or the jock that thought you were lame for skating to school. You have the ability and potential to move on, to level up, to evolve and mature at your own rate based off of what you find in the world around you.
I'm going to speak on campus schools first. If you go to a campus school and you're reading this, take none of this to heart. It's just my opinion.
So a campus school. UMASS Amherst. Syracuse. Alabama. Duke. University Of ______. All of those. The big names in the random places. There's so many of them. They all seem so much fun. "The College Life" where you see girls posting photos side by side in the hallway before a party all dressed up. The snapchats of the concrete dorms and all the beer cans everywhere. The stories of sleeping with people who you'll never even encounter again. The "let's pre game the pre game then hit the frat house". The wear your school colors and make your parents super happy and get them school color bumper stickers and fridge magnets. The die hard sport lovers. The kids in highschool who really loved their highschool core group and want that to be replicated for the following 4 years. The kids who most times don't want to go far from home, or don't even see a purpose in leaving their own state. The kids who want to go to the same parties every weekend and get probably a regular business degree and hope to get an internship summer going into their senior year. The kids who say "I have no clue what I want to do in life" so they basically press pause on life for 4 years.
One thing I used to use every day in the "college process" was NICHE.COM . Niche is a website (and a platform) where college kids go on and talk about their college experience, in all the categories you could care about.
Before we move on to the two types of schools, I want to go on one more rant.
This is based off of what I've learned in the past six months of going to college, and mainly from living in a city. Please take this to heart and remember this one day when you realize how true it is.
It's not what you know, it's who you know.
I learned that at a young age and I took that to heart when I came to college and had to meet damn near everyone in Chicago to get to the point I'm at now. My college version of the phrase is:
It's not about the education you get at college, it's the opportunities that you make for yourself while at college.
First semester of college was the largest transitional points in my life. I'll speak on different topics of school in a different blog but basically I learned about Advertising and essentially I found out exactly how I want to look at life. But, aside from that, I learned just about nothing first semester of college. I took some intro classes and an English class, but it taught me nothing that I'll carry with me into the real world. You know, I went to class, learned what I had to, wrote my papers, took my tests, got good grades, and chilled. But, first semester I learned everything. I learned what it was like to take the train to and from class. I learned about the entire photography community in Chicago. I met the youth scene. I branched out and worked with Vic and Uggs. I made $15,000 out of my dorm room. I designed an entire clothing collection and got my brand stocked in two big stores in Chicago. I met a new best friend who just signed as the Creative Director of OHKAY, enabling me to make this brand bigger and better with more than just my brain. I made a friend group of amazing people. I really liked a cool girl. I stopped really liking a cool girl. I went to underground clubs on the weekends. I went to house parties right in the middle of chicago that someone packed 250 people into houses. I saw Chance The Rapper three times, all for free. I was a part of the Cubs winning the World Series, just two blocks from my Campus. I witnessed the city cry tears of joy and celebrate like we had just won war. I witnessed the city almost go up in flames when Trump was elected. I drank tons of coffee and stayed up all night writing papers and studying for exams. I got hundreds of random numbers in my phone and the only texts I have with these people are addresses to parties and the club we were all going to that night. I met over 100 Uber drivers and made a new friend with each and every few minute ride. I never drank in my room and I learned that college kids love drugs! I got to grow OHKAY tremendously.
I remember when I went to college, the brand wasn't my #1 priority. We had done a big project over the summertime and had a lot of money from it that I had to play with. There were times that I said "I might not be able to run it while at school". I'm serious. That was such a sressful thought at the time. Man, I got to Chicago and I went on Instagram and I found every small clothing brand there was. I followed all of them. DM'd all the people. This one guy, John, who owns a brand called Gloryous just saw something in me. He knew I was a cool kid, so he would hit me up time to time. I asked him where he got his stuff printed and manufactured and he gave me his secrets and connects. I started designing stuff in the library of my school and sending the ideas over to my new close friend Aldrin who prints stuff in the west side of Chicago. He prints the pieces and drives them to me. In the matter of four weeks I had learned how to run the brand flawlessly out of my dorm room. And I was doing it, too. There have only been a few days since I got to school 6 months ago that I don't package an order. The best part about it, there's a USPS on my campus. Why can I do all of this? Why is all of this possible? Because I go to school in a major city.
I just want to say this early on, now that we've established that there's two big sides to things: Campus and City, I want to make something very clear.
There is a perfect time in your life that is made for experimentation. If you truly don't know what you want to do for your career, and you don't care about creating a company or anything substantial, and you want to have fun, then please listen to me. Go to a giant school. Go party and join greek life. Go to giant football games. Go to those day drinks in "the quad". Drink beers on lawns and tailgate sports events. Wear hoodies that say your schools' name on them all the time. Wear those dad caps with the letter of your school across the front. Rep that brand because you're a part of that culture. Please. Do it. If you're from Massachusetts and you want to party and get a great education for cheap, apply to UMass Amherst. If you want to live like a rockstar college kid out of some crazy movie, go to Alabama or any school with a giant football team. Please. You will find people you'll love. Man, you'll find just about anyone and everyone. If you're a boy who loved their high school sports team and had a bunch of homies that are going to state schools, chances are you're going to go to a state school. And if you're one of these kids and you dont go to a big school, I bet you're going to get to your "not big state school" and you're going to be really upset watching snapchat every night seeing all your friends shotgunning beers in the sink. Trust me. If you want a new life and you want to be around 50,000 kids on a giant campus, please go to one. There are so many colleges out there. SO MANY. And when we talk about Campus School, I guess there's tiers to it. There's your big 50k people universites, then there's the smaller ones. Some of the smaller ones have great social life, others have little to no party life. If you're going to a campus school, please look into it. Please make sure it has a good social life. Please don't be someone who sits in their dorm room because their university is a "dry campus" and there's no "party scene". That would suck. That would be an alltime low. You'd be a) not in a city and b) not partying all night long. So if you're going to go down this path, please just make it worth while.
If you're a creative. If you're someone who understands the world and wants to start life now. If you're someone who wants to make things and meet real life people and learn how to be a real person right away, you'll get consumed and eaten up by these places. Eaten Alive.
When you go to a state school, or a campus school as we're calling it, you become one of 40-50,000. You have classes with 300 people. You become a number. I always feared that. 'Being a number'. I know kids who go to class and they're called on as "145, what's the answer to the question on the board". They'll never go out to eat with their professors. Their professors will never ever reach out to them and offer them a job in the industry. You don't know your professor. You go to class, get done what needs to be done, then live. You party really really hard. It's a ton of fun. BUT, you're off in the middle of nowhere.
I was told this my junior year of highschool by someone who went off to go to school in New York and is now 20 with a real life job in the industry said to me one day "Go To A State School Young. Go to UMass amherst 10 times in highschool. Please. Get it out of you. Have your UMASS fun. Then go see the real world for 4 years. Don't let it eat you alive". And that's something I'll never forget. Ten Times he said. So I did. I went about 7 times. And each time all I thought about was that saying. "Get to the state school ten times". Each time was the same. Each time we drank and we went to some lame party. Each time we saw only college students and each time I realized, wow, you people seriously do this for f o u r y e a r s of your life.
Four years. Four years of drinking. Four years of football watching on the weekends.
Not to bash campus schools any more than I'm already doing, but I had this friend who was really creative and really entreprenuerial in highschool, he was 2 years older than me. I visited him one time at UMass Amherst and I was a senior and he was in his 2nd year of college and it was a sunday and we had woken up and I was with him and a few of his somewhat-cool-very-"college"-friends and I asked them "So....like, what do you guys do here besides party and watch sports?". One kid laughed and said "Bro, I haven't done a single thing since the day I moved in...Last Year!!! I just drink, chill, get by in class, and have fun!".
The entire room laughed, all in agreement to the statement.
"We don't really care what's going on outside of school, we just do the same thing every weekend" another kid said to me.
Now, senior in highschool me was in awe. I remember the exact room I was in, floor 9 third room on the right after the elevator. "Haven't done anything since we moved in...last year".
I walked out of that room that day with one of the biggest pieces of knowledge I could ever obtain. The realization that these schools take you in and eat you alive. Bit by bit. Until you're an algorithmic part of them. You go to class. You don't know your professors. You go to your dorm. You drink. You chill. You have a bunch of friends and enjoy partying. But you don't create. You don't work with people. You don't meet anyone in the real world. You don't meet anyone 40 years old! You don't talk to millionaires on the train. You don't know how to react when you see a homeless person sleeping on the train. You don't attend meetings. You don't check your email constantly because there's probably nothing to check. If you do make a business, it's probably going to be a tech start up and you're never going to be getting crazy funding outside of the university entreprenuership program. You're never going to go to real clubs or see real concerts. Everything you do, everything you attend, everything you're a product of becomes this "university campus life". You're not starting successful brands. And if you are.... guess what... you're going on Instagram every day saying "I wish I had gone to school in a city".
All Living Creatives Die In Corn Fields.
Every Living Creative Is Born In A City.
Man I loved Syracuse. I got in and I got a great scholarship. I went there and had the time of my life. Went to this crazy bar, went to a bunch of frats on Frat Row. They have their own street dedicated to just PARTYING. Those big schools are so cool. For my roommates birthday this year all he wanted was to go visit his highschool best friends out in Boulder, Colorado. Man, I had never been to Boulder. We got flights and just left one night after our thursday night classes for the weekend. We flew there, got picked up by his friend, and I experienced an entire new world. Boulder is such an awesome example of an awesome school in an awesome location with an awesome party scene and a great campus life but it's just not in a major city. I met some of the coolest people there that weekend. Everyone loves skiing and snowboarding and winter and everything else. People love to climb mountains and smoke weed. We partied every night and just walked aimlessly. I met up with some people I knew from the internet and ended up going out with my friend Roy one night. We literally just walked into random houses and partied with whoever was inside. During the day we drove around in a pretty Jeep and saw all of Colorado but Mitchell (my roommate) and I kept saying it over and over again "I couldn't do this for four years". Mitchell made a good point one night, he said "what do you do after this? Do you just move into an apartment in Colorado with your friends and hope to get an accounting job at a small place out here and just never move to a major city because you become so accustomed to the college life that you lose touch of the city".
But the school was beautiful. Gorgeous place. The dorms looked like something out of a movie. It's so much prettier than my school. And I found a bunch of cool kids on my random walks at night or going from party to party. All the kids in cool clothes or the kids who i was talking to all said the same thing "Man, I love it here but I wish i was at school in a city". But then again the boat shoe wearing bros probably would never move out of the life because it's perfect for them. I just don't see when you level up. I feel like you boss up once, move there, party hard, and stay at a nuetral boss level for just about ever. You plateau.
But then on the other side of things, we have the City Schools.
I guess in telling you all the other sides of the spectrum you can already feel what a city school is like. It's just so unique. For me, I have a really pretty campus inside the city that is like fenced in almost. It's like a really really big private school that you have in suburban towns, but just in the middle of the city. For me, if I have business classes, i have to take the train downtown. I take classes in a huge building right in the middle of Chicago. When I have other classes like English and stuff, it's right on my campus that I live on. But Chicago is my campus. All of it. On the weekends there will be a bunch of addresses that everyone gets and you just hop from house to house, party to party, most times they get really sweaty, or you can be one of those kid who love the bars or the clubs. Oh, sorry to say it, but you need a Fake ID for college. I'm not going to tell you how to get one but it's not hard and basically there's never a bad time to be 21 years old. There have been a few concerts that I've gone to where being 21 got me in where as being 18 wouldn't. I don't know, ask anyone, they'll tell you that having a fake is optimal. Especially in a city.
When you're in a city, you're not confined to just your college. For me, I rarely hangout with kids from my school on the weekends. I go to parties with them and stuff, but I'm fully a part of chicago now so anything that happens in the clothing scene, the youth scene, the music scene, I know about it and I'm there. Why? Because the city is my campus. And I'm not stuck in Syracuse, New York which is 5 hours from NYC. I'm not in east-bum of Massachusetts. I'm not blacking out at a fraternity house and waking up on the floor with sharpie on my face. Although the movies make that stuff seem so much fun and I'm Shmacked does a great job of telling you people that that's the only way to live, just know there's more than that to the world.
When you pick a college, you pick a lifestyle. Each one is different. Each college, like we talked about earlier, is its' own brand. You become a part of a brand. Do you want to be a part of the New York Brand like Supreme is? Go to NYU, go to Pace, go to any school IN NEW YORK. Do you wan't to be Patagonia? Go to school in New Hampshire, Vermont, Colorado, Ski a ton, enjoy your life, be happy.
I guess this blog is a bunch of random thoughts all compiled into one. I don't watch anyone's snapchat stories and I never have and never will, so I guess I don't really know what people do at state schools. I just know that every internet person that is creative and has a passion for something like rap, photography, clothes, anything in that world that ends up at a state school hates themselves and loses passion and ends up transfering to a city. I've been back at school for almost two weeks now and I've met six different people that transfered to my school from a big school in the middle of nowhere because they hated it there.
If you're going to go to a big school somewhere secluded, just know what you're getting yourself into. Please. And if you're going to college in a few years, a few months, or whatever it may be, just know that there's a school out there for you, you just need to look hard and find it. Please go to college. Please experience life. Just live to the fullest. Be happy. Learn from the world. Teach to the world. And smile every step of the way. Please.